Category Archives: McDonalds

Fiesta 2017 – A Celebration of Generations!

Fiesta Co-Presidents, Teresa Zuniga Odom and Vanessa Vargas pose with the newly unveiled Fiesta 15th Anniversary – Quince – logo!

A Celebration of Generations…that’s what Fiesta 2017, the Quinceañera, was billed as and it definitely delivered!

Planning Fiesta has turned into a year-round job for our board of directors and our incredible event manager, Denise Koch.  In recent years, we’ve begun the planning process in November instead of waiting until February.  As the festival grows, this is a must in order to stay ahead of the game and also make sure we are offering our patrons new and exciting additions to the event each year.  We are a working board but everyone also has a day job too so…

Our Fiesta t-shirts this year – Fiesta…then Siesta!

During our anniversary years in the past, the board had a new logo created in celebration and we’ve looked for significant ways to make Fiesta more exciting.  Our 15th anniversary – Quinceañera – was quite a milestone so we really wanted to ramp thing up!  It was a coming of age of our festival!  Last November, the board decided that during our anniversary years, it would be beneficial to have co-presidents at the helm in order to share the work load.  Board member, Vanessa Vargas and I were voted in as co-Presidents which lent itself nicely to our theme – with Vanessa representing the younger generation – the daughter, and me representing the older generation – the mother.   The next month, over lunch with board member Lui Fernandez, the Fiesta theme was born which cemented our charge for Fiesta 2017 – “a celebration of generations!”  I remember getting goose bumps when Lui explained his ideas for the year and threw out the tagline!  Vanessa and I were so excited and ready to assume our roles as “Fiesta Mother and Daughter!”

Looking back on Fiesta 2017 and our path to Quince…I have to say…it was our best festival to date!  Every quadrant of Linn Park was filled and we had well over 100 tents in the park – a record for us.  Park Place, the road running on one side of the park, was also filled with the presence of the McDonalds Fiesta Tour which had rebranded and looked amazing!  McDonalds, our Title Sponsor, was also handing out slushie samples and I heard they ran out!  That’s a lot of people drinking slushies!!!

The weather was gorgeous all day long and I once again loved going from booth to booth to photograph friends – old and new –  and thank them for being a part of Fiesta’s Quince!  This year I had Vanessa with me for most of the visits and loved having that experience with her.  I also really can’t remember a time when we had as much pre-publicity for our event!  Vanessa and I were booked on every station and one radio station leading up to the event.  At one point during the festival, Vanessa and I had “dueling TV interviews” going on in the VIP section!  Vane was talking to CBS and I was talking to NBC.   We always had a great time with Claire Per-Lee of Style Advertising (Fiesta’s Advertising Agency) at each interview and she always photographed and videoed so we could have that memory.  She made each appearance so easy for us complete with talking points and props needed for the interview.  Claire, Vanessa and I were in such constant contact in the weeks leading up to Fiesta that it’s a little weird not getting several text messages a day from each other now!

Everywhere I looked at this year, sponsors and nonprofits were doing a great job of reaching patrons and drawing them in.  Swag from these booths was over the top!  There was just SO much activity all over the park that it was hard to catch it all.  That’s when I know we’ve hit a home run!   We always throw sponsor items from the stage, but this year we really ramped it up and the crowd loved it!  We’ve done this before but not to this level.

Throwing swag from the stage!

Volunteers…I can’t say enough about volunteers in general.  They can make or break your event. It you’ve been involved with events, you know this.  For Fiesta though, we’ve always been fortunate to have wonderful volunteers who have the spirit of the event at heart.  This year I wasn’t able to secure a volunteer coordinator for this festival so I took on the task myself.  And I was a little worried, I have to admit…especially with all the other responsibilities I had leading into Fiesta.  That is…until I got a message from a Spanish teacher Charity Jackson at Parker High School.  She said she had about 15-20 students who wanted to volunteer!  I was ecstatic!!!  And then she contacted me and said she had more students who wanted to volunteer!  By the time I had the volunteer schedule pulled together two days before the event, she had 35 students committed to working at Fiesta!  Ms. Jackson kept thanking me for having them at Fiesta but I told her several time that she really saved “me” by having her students there.  They were incredible…and so was she!

Spanish Teacher Charity Jackson with her students from Park High School – these kids were the best volunteers!

There are so many more stories about Fiesta 2017 that I could tell…but as I have done in the past, I think it’s best shown in photos.  If you came out to Fiesta, thank you…from the bottom of my heart for sharing our Quince with us!  If you weren’t able to be there…for whatever reason, I hope you enjoy a walk through our Quince in these photos!


Fiesta Fridays! 2014

NOTE:  Fiesta Fridays is a special series to highlight the many memories I have of fiesta through the photographs I’ve taken since 2003.

Title Sponsor McDonalds brought the Fiesta Tour to Linn Park in 2014!

Fiesta 2014 brought us a series of “firsts” to our event.  One of the biggest was getting our “first” Title Sponsor.  Our top-level of sponsorship had always been “Presenting” and we had toyed with the idea of having a Title Sponsor.  The conversation ignited when Santiago Negre, Hispanic owner of numerous area McDonalds arrived in town.  He is the type of person who gets involved in the community and found Fiesta a way to do just that.  McDonalds had always been a Presenting Sponsor but this was the year we asked and he said “yes” to Title Sponsorship!

Jeh Jeh Pruitt of WBRC poses with Ronald McDonald, Santiago Negre, Fiesta President, Matt Ennis and Russell Negre before on air interview.

We were thrilled, to say the least!  And in addition to taking the Title Sponsorship, Santiago also arranged to have the Fiesta Tour come to Birmingham.  This was a tremendous coup for us as this tour typically only presents in the largest markets like Chicago, Los Angeles, and the like.  The Fiesta tour – appropriately named (in our humble opinion) – is like a Latin Grammy Experience!  It’s a 50 foot trailer exhibit with a walk through display of unique artifacts and memorabilia loaned by Latin musicians.  You get to see items belonging to such artists as Jennifer Lopez, Celia Cruz, Jose Feliciano and Marc Anthony.  It also features a live DJ, music kiosk and kiddie area with a photo center.  The Fiesta tour was set up right at the entrance so attendees bought their ticket to the festival and could walk directly through the exhibit.  It was such an exciting addition to Fiesta that year!

Another “first” was having a parade of flags, along with the flag ceremony and the Pledge of Allegiance at the event and this was thanks to the Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama.  Marisela Mendez is a powerhouse of a woman (now retired) who was a huge force in engaging Hispanic girls and their families into scouting in our state.  She arranged to have girl scouts from around the region attend Fiesta and dress in traditional costumes to carry the flags of Latino countries.  She also had a group experienced in the presentation of the colors on hand, and in uniform to lead the event in the Pledge of Allegiance from the main stage.  It was such a beautiful and colorful sight that year!  The girls were gorgeous in their dresses and throughout the day I would see them around the park with their families enjoying the day.

Photo of all the Hispanic Girl Scouts who participated in the 2014 Fiesta event in costume and Girl Scout uniforms.

At one point, I was next to the Coca Cola Main Stage with my daughter, Anna Marie, when we saw one of the girls twirling to the music.  Her pink dress was floating as she twirled and she was clearly in her own little world with the music.  Anna Marie and I began taking pictures of her when one of her friends saw us and decided to twirl with her.  It was such a sweet moment and I’m so glad we caught it.

This was also the year we were able to grant a wish to a young Hispanic girl who was seriously ill and in Children’s Hospital of Alabama.  She wanted to meet her favorite musical artist – El Dasa – and we arranged to make that happen with the help of Amado Santos, Patient Relations and Language Services Director.  El Dasa was so gracious too.  Jasmine – the young girl – was taken by wheelchair to his personal tour bus and along with her parents and brother, were able to meet him and have a short visit.  The sweetest moment came when Jazmine gave him a drawing she made.  It was of a pair of cowboy boots and a hat,  similar to what he wears for his performances.  He was so sweet to her, asking her about the drawing and other things that she enjoyed.  He was truly interested in her and wanted to make this a good experience…that was clear.  A local news station came out to cover the meeting and at the end, El Dasa posed for pictures with the family and the drawing before heading to the stage for his performance.  I enjoyed being a “fly on the wall,” as they say and being able to witness this special meeting.


More to come so please come back next Friday to hear about Fiesta 2015!

Fiesta 2015…two thousand pictures later…

Mosaico Flamenco performs on the Fiesta Coca Cola Main Stage

Mosaico Flamenco performs on the Fiesta Coca Cola Main Stage

Every year, my main focus at Fiesta is capturing all the fun and festivities  with my camera.  From the set up to the village activities to the musical acts…I take a ton of photos!  This year though, I think I topped my all time number of photos.  As I downloaded from my camera on Sunday morning, I couldn’t believe the total number was well over two thousand pics!  Editing is going to be fun…

One of the things that struck me as I flipped through the photos was the fact that the rain and cold weather on Saturday didn’t make a bit of difference in the smiles and enjoyment of the people who attended.  Experiencing Fiesta in the cold and rain was new for ALL of us.  Not that I want inclement weather for Fiesta 2016…but it’s clear that everyone made the most of Fiesta in the cold and rain and enjoyed it as if it were 80 degrees and sunny!  I love our Fiesta family!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures so far…

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Fiesta Night with Los Barons – Part 1


Regions Field and the Birmingham Barons partnered with Fiesta to have Fiesta Night with Los Barons last year. We are gearing up for another fun event this week!

Last year, Fiesta was fortunate to partner with the Birmingham Barons for a night of baseball with a Latin flair!  Fiesta Night with Los Barons was the perfect prelude to Fiesta 2014 and was so much fun to pull together and attend!

Ronald McDonald posed for pictures with fans and The Home Depot mascot made an appearance too!

Ronald McDonald posed for pictures with fans and The Home Depot mascot made an appearance too!

Fiesta board members and volunteers arrived early that evening to fill the drink cups with flyers about that year’s event.  Later, they staffed a table to pre-sell tickets to Fiesta and answer any questions about the festival.  Our presenting sponsor, McDonalds was on hand to participate in that night and brought along Ronald McDonald who joked with the crowd and posed for pictures with everyone.

Samford Students participated in the Parade of Latino Country Flags before the beginning of the game.

Samford Students participated in the Parade of Latino Country Flags before the beginning of the game.

Before the first pitch was thrown out, we arranged to have students from Samford University walk onto the field in a parade of flags representing about 15 Latino countries.  So colorful!  The students were later on hand for a check presentation photo when Fiesta awarded $5,000 to Samford University for Hispanic student scholarships.  Carlos Aleman, Professor of History accepted the check along with students from the newly formed Samford University Latino Student Organization.  It was so exciting to see the students and have them participate!  And I have to say that just a few short months later, the Fiesta board asked Carlos to become a board member and he graciously accepted!  We are fortunate to have him on board with us!

McDonald's Owner and Fiesta Title Sponsor, Santiago Negre did the honors by throwing out the first pitch at the game.

McDonald’s Owner and Fiesta Title Sponsor, Santiago Negre did the honors by throwing out the first pitch at the game.

After the parade of flags, it was time for the first pitch.  Fiesta asked Santiago Negre, local McDonalds store owner and Title Sponsor of Fiesta, to do the honors.  Santiago and his brother, Russell, have been wonderful to Fiesta and they are back this year (2015) as Title Sponsor once again!  We are so fortunate to have them in Birmingham, not only for their Fiesta sponsorship but also for all the wonderful things they are doing for our community and city and always with such enthusiasm.

Santiago joked about his form and how he would throw the baseball as he went to the mound and then proceeded to throw out the most perfect pitch!  It was great to be on the field when this was happening and feel the excitement around us.  Santiago definitely made us proud with that pitch and we certainly let him know!  The traditional race of the mascots was interesting too.  From what I hear, the Hot Dog always wins and the Taco is left in the dusk.  Well, this year we had Ronald McDonald running a little interference for the Taco and it won!!!  That was quite a thrill for us, believe it or not!

Later we all grabbed a beverage – it was Thirsty Thursday after all – and enjoyed the game.  The weather was beautiful that night and the crowd was great.  Hopefully, we were able to reach some people who didn’t know about Fiesta and encourage them to attend last year.

If you are in town this week, come on out to Fiesta Night with Los Barons THIS Thursday, August 27 –  Regions Field at 6 p.m.  Fiesta tickets will be on sale and you won’t want to miss the Parade of Flags again.  We also have a special guest who will be throwing out the first pitch!  More on all this in my next post – Part 2 of Fiesta Night with Los Barons!  Hope to see you there!

Fiesta Board and Volunteer Shirts for 2014 - the color definitely made us all stand out in crowds!

Fiesta Board and Volunteer Shirts for 2014 – the color definitely made us all stand out in crowds!

Carlos and the students get ready to show off the flags of Latin countries.

Carlos and the students get ready to show off the flags of Latin countries.

Photo opp with Santiago Negre and Fiesta Board Chair - Matt Ennis!

Photo opp with Santiago Negre and Fiesta Board Chair – Matt Ennis!

Fiesta Board Members are ready to have a blast at Fiesta Night with Los Barons!

Fiesta Board Members are ready to have a blast at Fiesta Night with Los Barons! From left to right: Vanessa Vargas, Cristina Almanza, Teresa Zuniga Odom, Chris Miller, Matt Ennis and Orlando Rosa. (Missing from the photo: Ashlee Jones and Freddy Rubio)


Fiesta Event Manager, Denise Koch (far right), gives last minute instructions as the gates open.


What Are You Doing on October 3rd?


Two little girls dressed in native dress, twirl to the music of the main stage…

Looking for something fun to do on October 3rd?

I know…I know…you can’t think past this Saturday, must less a Saturday in October, right?!  Well, pull out your calendar NOW and write in BIG BOLD Letters….Fiesta! in Linn Park!

This will be Fiesta’s 13th year and we have a brand new “village” to add!  I can’t tell you about it just yet but I guarantee you will love it!

Flamenco dancing on the Coca-Cola Main Stage at Fiesta 2014.

Flamenco dancing on the Coca-Cola Main Stage at Fiesta 2014.

As always, we will feature our ever popular Cultural Village so our guests can learn and experience the cultures of the many Hispanic/Latino countries.  In addition, we’ll have the Family Village, Health & Wellness Village, Community Village, Sports Village,  Food Village, Dance Stage and Main Stage.


A look at the crowd around the Coca-Cola Main Stage at last years Fiesta!

McDonalds is returning as Fiesta’s Presenting  Sponsor for a 2nd year and once again bringing their Fiesta Tour to the event.  I was talking with local McDonald’s owner, Santiago Negre a few weeks ago and he told me the entire tour has been revamped and will be even more outstanding than last year!  We really are so very grateful to Santiago and his brother, Russell, for bringing this wonderful addition to Birmingham for a second year in a row.  It’s really quite a treat to see the tour and all the Hispanic music icons featured.  The Negre brothers have really made their presence felt in our community and continue to do great things to impact lives.


You can stay up to date with all things Fiesta by liking our Facebook page, following us on Twitter, and following us on Instagram.  Of course, you can also check our website at any time too.  Tickets will be on sale soon!  Go ahead and join the Facebook Event we’ve created and share with your friends.  The more the merrier at Fiesta!

OK…now that you know the date…go put Fiesta on your calendar…RIGHT NOW!  Hope to see you there!


The Hispanic Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama presented the flags of the Latin American countries at the opening of Fiesta last year.

The Hispanic Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama presented the flags of the Latin American countries at the opening of Fiesta last year.

Fiesta…one thousand pictures later…

Fiesta 2014 is now a great memory for the board and planning committee…it was an incredible day!  Last Saturday, September 27th, we enjoyed great weather, huge attendance, many new vendors and participants, and reconnected with so many long time amigos!  We reconfigured our set-up in Linn Park and it really made a difference in the attendee traffic.  Everywhere I looked, there were people and families enjoying the event, eating delicious food and sitting on the beautiful green grass.

Our title sponsor, McDonalds, brought an incredible exhibit – The Fiesta Tour – a 53-foot long traveling mobile unit that pays tribute to Latin GRAMMY winners – to Birmingham for us to enjoy. Every time I went by the exhibit, there were crowds – such a beautiful sight!  The Santiago brothers, Santiago and Russ, have been wonderful partners to Fiesta this year and we are so grateful for their presence!

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The McDonald’s Fiesta Tour entrance. What an incredible exhibit!

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A dress worn by Gloria Estefan and a guitar owned by Carlos Santata – just a few of the items in the McDonald’s Fiesta Tour on display.

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Sombrero belonging to Mexican artist – Vicente Fernandez – in the McDonald’s Fiesta Tour.

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Ronald McDonald gets anchored in Linn Park, in the Family Village.

I downloaded more than one thousand photos last Sunday afternoon.  It always amazes me how many photos I take at Fiesta each year.  And yet, there are always shots I miss and think about later.  Oh!  And this doesn’t include the photos I take with my iPhone!   One of my favorite elements this year was having the Hispanic Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama participate with the presentation of colors, pledge of allegiance, Girl Scout promise (in English and Spanish), and finally parade around the park with the flags of the Latin countries while dressed in native costumes!  It was absolutely a BEAUTIFUL sight!  In fact, I do believe (aside from the music acts), that the Girl Scouts were the most photographed group of the day!  The magnificent Marisela Mendez, the Hispanic Initiative Manager for GSNCA, worked for many weeks to pull the girls and their families together for Fiesta.  This Dominican woman is a “powerhouse” and the community is lucky to have her working for Hispanic girls in our region.  Her heart is all about connecting these little girls with Girl Scouts and she will do everything possible to ensure they can have the Girl Scout experience in their lives.

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This precious little one lead the Girl Scouts around the park in the parade of flags, dressed in a beautiful white mariachi outfit.

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The Girl Scouts pose in front of their booth at Fiesta.

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The Hispanic Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama during the flag ceremony – presentation of colors.

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Talking to one of the Girl Scouts after the parade of flags…this little one was so precious and apparently I wasn’t saying her name the right way – she kept correcting me! (Photo credit: Cristina Almanza)

I’ve pulled a few of my favorite photos from Fiesta to share on the blog.  If you were at Fiesta and took some photos, please post them on the Fiesta facebook page!  We would love to see what you captured!!!

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This little one kept twirling to the music next to the main stage. Such joy!

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This little girl saw me taking photos of the girl in the pink and decided she wanted to twirl and have her picture taken too!

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Sugar Skull faces at Fiesta! These young ladies were popular – everyone wanted to have their pictures taken with them!

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Got to hang out with my daughter, Anna Marie, for part of the day. She is always so helpful when I’m making my photography rounds in the park.

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Dancers on the stage…they certainly drew a crowd!

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Running into Ricardo and Aimee Aparicio was the best!Reconnecting with long time friends is one of the joys of Fiesta for me. Ricardo was there when Fiesta was started.

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On stage with El Dasa! Great energy during his entire performance!

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El Dasa’s surprise meet and greet with a young girl battling cancer – I don’t think there was a dry eye in the trailer when this happened.

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A crowd shot from the stage as El Dasa performs…

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It’s always fun to run into Clark Scott and Larry Gay at Fiesta. They take some amazing photos each year!

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Crowds were massive this year at Fiesta 2014!

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Traditional Mexican dresses for sale at Fiesta.

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Two of the hardest working women at Fiesta this year – board members Vannessa Vargas and Cristina Almanza! They absolutely ROCK!